Cleaning 2012 - a global industry

12th of March 2012 Article by Andrew Large

Andrew Large, executive vice-president for the World Federation of Building Service Contractors (WFBSC) starts his new blog for ECJ. He explains why professional cleaning is now a truly global industry.

All cleaning is local, goes the old adage. Well increasingly this piece of homespun wisdom is being proved wrong. As the World Federation of Building Service Contractors (WFBSC) prepares to meet in Curitiba, Brazil this October ( the interconnected nature of our industry is becoming clearer by the minute.

The regulatory environment has been globally focused for some time. The International Electrotechnical Commission is the key body when it comes to machinery standards, not the EU or any of the other regional groupings. In chemicals, the United Nations has adopted the GHS (Globally Harmonised Standard) criteria, which have been converted wholesale into national laws on chemical labelling and packaging around the world.

The WHO is the key driver of health standards, especially in the developing world and its hand washing information is the global standard. Even in labour standards, the International Labour Office has developed policy on areas such as outsourcing and contract work, which are used by campaign groups and employee representatives to put pressure on employers globally.

Labour markets in cleaning are also becoming more fluid. While large scale offshoring of cleaning services is impractical, migrant workers form the backbone of the cleaning industry in most countries of the world. The UK's experience of the early 21st century is instructive when it comes to the pull effect of growing economies on large number of migrant workers. As for machinery and chemical products, event small manufacturers are seeking to gain the cost advantages from production in the Far East and are learning how to manage the long supply chains and communications difficulties that this entails.

Only now however is the cleaning industry beginning to develop a global consciousness to match its global scope. In recent months the WFBSC has begun to raise its game and focus not just on relationship building but also on thought leadership and influencing the regulatory agenda. It is difficult to understate how vital this work is, as without an active employer voice, the industry risks damage from unthinking or uncaring regulation.

So join us. Join us when we discuss cleaning and health issues with the WHO at ISSA/INTERCLEAN this May. Join us in Brazil for the WFBSC biennial congress in October 2012. Let's stop other people talking about our business and take control of our destiny. Let's put the cleaning industry on the map and show the world why we think this is the best business to be in.

I'll see you there.

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